Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A New National Anthem?

I have always been rather attached to "La Marseillaise." Wikipedia's article about it includes this:

The song was banned in Vichy France and German occupied areas during World War II and singing it was an act of resistance (see also Chant des Partisans). . . .

In France itself, the anthem (and particularly the lyrics) has become a somewhat controversial issue since the 1970s. Some consider it militaristic and xenophobic, and many propositions have been made to change the anthem or the lyrics.

What do the objectors find objectionable? This:

Verse I
Arise children of our fatherland,
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us, tyranny,
Has raised its bloodied banner,
Do you hear in the fields
The howling of these fearsome soldiers?
They are coming into your midst
To slit the throats of your sons and consorts!
To arms, citizens!
Form your battalions!
Let us march, let us march!
Let impure blood (of our enemies)
Soak the furrows (of our fields)
Verse II
What does this horde of slaves,
Traitors, and plotting kings want?
For whom these vile chains
These long-prepared irons?
Frenchmen, for us, ah! What outrage,
What fury must it arouse?
It is us they dare plan
To return to the old slavery!
Verse III
What! These foreign cohorts!
They would make laws in our courts!
What! These mercenary phalanxes
Would cut down our warrior sons
Good Lord! By chained hands
Our brow would yield under the yoke
The vile despots would have themselves be
The masters of destiny
Verse IV
Tremble, tyrants and traitors
The shame of all good men
Tremble! Your parricidal schemes
Will receive their just reward
Against you we are all soldiers
If they fall, our young heroes
France will bear new ones
Ready to join the fight against you
Verse V
Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors
Bear or hold back your blows
Spare these sad victims
That they regret taking up arms against us
But not these bloody despots
These accomplices of Bouillé
All these tigers who mercilessly
Ripped out their mothers' wombs
Verse VI
Sacred patriotic love
Lead [and] support our avenging arms
Liberty, cherished liberty
Fight back with your defenders
Under our flags, let victory
Hurry to your manly tone
So that your enemies, in their last breath [before death]
See your triumph and our glory!
Verse VII
We shall enter the career
When our elders will no longer be there
There we shall find their ashes
And the mark of their virtues
[We are] Much less jealous of surviving them
Than of sharing their coffins
[For] We shall have the sublime pride
Of avenging or joining them

If the French (unsurprisingly) find it too ferocious, let's make it our own by replacing "Frenchmen" and "France" with "Americans" and "America." Given the present state of the world, "La Marseillaise" is much more fitting (and rousing) than the rather airy (and almost un-sing-able) "Star Spangled Banner."